#220 On a Scale of One to Ten

by Monica Segura

“The journalist I tweeted about yesterday was found dead this morning.”

“How dead?”

“Six.” Burst eye. Exploded chest. Crushed fingers. Very 20th century.

“Six?”

“Alright,” I conceded. “Five… Maybe four.” The body was intact. If the family were still around they could ID without DNA.

Three swipes on my notepad sent the image onto the glowing wall before us.

“That’s a four. Pay up.”

I was already pulling a tin of sardines out of my bag. One day I’d quit betting against the former stockbroker.

With a couple taps last quarter’s daily averages emerged, looking like a flat lined EKG.

“Card on the body?” he asked.

“Yeah. Looks like a new artist.”

“Matanza must’ve gotten bored. Let’s see it.”

Swipe. Tap. The broken man was replaced by confident brush strokes.

My boss cocked his head and stroked an imaginary mustache. The gauzy blue image tinted his sun-starved face.

The cartel leader’s artistic bent turned every assassination into an exhibit. Today’s was not the usual corrupted saint or ravaged goddess.

Gazing outside was lethal, so crossing to the fridge, I stared deep into the icebox at our proof of existence—piss beer and stale crackers. I chose saltines and posited,

“A tidal wave crashing at sunset…” Maybe this marked the end.

He frowned, stole a cracker and added a tiny fish. One bite. He snagged a second and stared at the screen, calculating.

“Betcha next one’s an eight.”

I swam in the ocean and hoped on the sunset.

“You’re on.”

1 comment:

Shona Snowden said...

An interesting one that bears re-reading.